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This essay interrogates the role of beauty in the visual field. Solomon-Godeau begins with a consideration of beauty as employed in art criticism, psychoanalysis, and photography. Using nineteenth-century nude photographs made by the Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden and his cousin Wilhelm Pluschow as examples, Solomon-Godeau investigates how the depiction of bodies “require coding and inscription in ways that signal not just the difference between various representations of the human body but difference itself and its inherent erotic significance.” As Solomon-Godeau argues, the circuits of desire are shaped not just by aesthetic contemplation and individual sexual desire, but by wider systems...

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